LIMAY, Bataan — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Friday recognized steep food prices as the “biggest problem” Filipinos faced and vowed to open more Kadiwa stores that would offer cheaper farm products.
Marcos attributed the problem to the country's reliance on imports and its long-time neglect of the agriculture sector.
“Alam naman natin sa kasalukuyan 'yan ang pinakamabigat na problemang hinaharap nating lahat at pataas ng pataas ang presyo ng bilihin,” said Marcos, who concurrently heads the agriculture department.
“Naging problema ito dahil tayo ay naging umaasa na tayo masyado, bago noong pandemiya, umaasa na tayo masyado sa importation, napabayaan natin ang agrikultura kaya mababa ang ani ng ating mga magsasaka,” he said in a speech.
(We know that at present, that is the biggest challenge we are all facing, the prices of goods keep increasing. This became a problem because we depended too much on importation that we neglected our agriculture, leading to low production from our local farmers.)
Inflation slightly eased to 8.6 percent in February from 8.7 percent the previous month.
Inflation is expected to ease back below 4 percent later this year on a month-on-month basis, according to government estimates. The average, however, is seen to revert to within the 2 to 4 percent target by 2024.
In the meantime, the government offers cheaper food products in Kadiwa stalls by shouldering transportation and packaging costs, among others.
Some 300 Kadiwa stalls are “viable and operational” across the country, Marcos noted.
“Ngayon naman ay nakikita namin kailangan talaga palawakin pa at alam ko yung mga Kadiwa, ang mga pinupuntahan ng mga tao, lalung-lalo na yung bigas na mura, yung asukal na mura, yung sibuyas na mura, nauubos agad. Kaya't ang kailangan natin gawin talaga pagandahin ang produksyon natin,” he said.
(The challenge is expanding Kadiwa stores to more areas. The rice, sugar, and onions they sell run out quickly. This is why we should really improve our production.)
In a chance interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said they would try establishing more Kadiwa stores in partnership with local government units and the trade department.
“We are also coordinating with our regional trade office para strategic. Kailangan kasi accessible sa ating consumers. We are identifying the production areas kung saan manggagaling ang produkto,” Evangelista told reporters
(It should be accessible to our consumers. We are identifying areas where the products will come from.)